Innovation is a subject that everyone in business keeps talking about however most of us in business and work do not seem to relate to this. My thoughts are that is because when most of us think innovation, we probably think of something quite dramatic; a change in technology that nobody else had thought of – or at least, been able to make work. Companies like Dyson, Apple and Google etc seem to take the limelight in terms of innovation and BBC’s Click TV programme and Channel 5’s Gadget Show tell us what it means to be innovators.
But I want to bring us back into reality and bring the word back into everyday use in the workplace. The definition that is promoted above is too narrow and frankly it stifles innovation as a result. If all that our people are trying to achieve is Dyson-level improvements, we’re going to have a lot of disappointment all round.
I would look to put forward the following acronym of SIRII (not to be confused with Apple Siri!). SIRII stands for “Small Improvements Regularly is Innovation“.
SIRII is important for introducing change and improvements such as Kaizen, the Japanese concept but again another word that most people in business cannot easily relate to. SIRII encourages us to take 80% of an existing idea and tackle the 20% of it – but regularly.
If we stay where we are, we go backwards. Just as inflation erodes our savings, being static erodes our offering. But we don’t need to invent the next big thing to keep moving forwards.
We should ask ourselves:
- How can we make our process better?
- How can we improve the workflow?
- Where is the improvement in our documentation?
- Where is the improvement in our business? /What can I improve on?
Practically, how can we do this? Michael Dell’s Diary of Issues is a functional way of making this steady progress. Keep a note of anything- big or small – that raises a concern in your mind. From the annoyance of not having access rights to accounts to do your job, to a key member of staff being absent who is needed to authorise decisions, a diary of issues is important in the process of SIRII.
Innovation is your small business making improvements every day. Don’t dismiss small issues, don’t settle for incorporating them into your working day. Many of them may never be solved, but simply by being conscious of them, our brains can begin the process of solving them.
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